SEMINAR> "The History & Culture of the Tibetan Book," June 14–19, Rare Book School at Virginia

Laura Perrings's picture

Rare Book School is very proud to offer H-140: The History & Culture of the Tibetan Book, taught by Benjamin J. Nourse (of the University of Denver) from 14–19 June in Charlottesville, VA! Dr. Nourse will be joined by guest lecturer Geshe Ngawang Sonam. Geshe Sonam was selected in 2008 through an examination conducted by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to become one of the translators for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since then, he has accompanied His Holiness to various places in India and many countries around the world. In January 2019, he was awarded the highest degree of Geshe Lharampa by Gelugpa University. We are delighted that he will be joining us this year.

This course offers a broad overview of the history and culture of the book in Tibet. Participants will discuss what is meant by “the book” in Tibetan culture and explore how books fit into the larger material, religious, and intellectual cultures of Tibet. The course will focus on major periods and developments in the history of Tibetan manuscript and print cultures, the physical materials and process of making Tibetan books, and the book within Tibetan religious and scholarly culture. Early source materials, such as epigraphy and Tibetan manuscripts from the “library cave” of Dunhuang (pre-twelfth century CE), as well as the continuing importance of manuscript production in Tibet will be considered. Students will also trace the development of Tibetan woodblock printing, from the Yuan dynasty-era (1279–1368) books known as “Mongolian prints” (hor par ma) to the eighteenth-century editions of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon. The end of the course will briefly touch on contemporary Tibetan publishing, both print and digital.

Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis until the course reaches enrollment capacity. Visit our website at for course details, instructions for applying, and evaluations by past students. Contact us at with questions.